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Verdict in Ahmaud Arbery case hailed in Brooklyn

November 24, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff and Associated Press
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Statements from Brooklyn officials and from Brooklynites via social media, on the whole expressed support for Wednesday’s verdict that found Greg and Tavis McMichael and William Bryan, the three defendants in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, guilty.

Brooklyn resident Jay Brown posted on Twitter, “Ahmaud Arbery never got to finish his run on 2/23.20, I’m running 2.23 miles in his memory at 2:23 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27 in Brooklyn (beginning at the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge) and raising funds to benefit the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.”

On Arbery’s birthday in May, the Prospect Park Track Club also had urged its members to run in his memory. Arbery, a runner, was out jogging near Brunswick, Georgia, when he was shot and killed.

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New York State Attorney General Letitia James, a former councilmember from Brooklyn, said, “The guilty verdicts reached today are important in showing true accountability in a system that should be fair and just for all. It is clear that the facts, as laid out by the strong arguments of the prosecution, resonated with the jury. 

“However, we cannot mistake accountability with justice. True justice would be Ahmaud Arbery here today, living his life as he was meant to before he was senselessly taken from the world.”

Brooklyn Borough President and NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams said, “Nothing can bring back Ahmaud Arbery, but today in Georgia, justice was served to the people who murdered him. My thoughts are with Mr. Arbery’s family today. 

“I want to also recognize the courageous work of the activists who called attention to this case. Without their efforts, Mr. Arbery’s killers might have never been held accountable.”

“I still haven’t watched the footage of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. I still can’t,” said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, also a former councilmember from Brooklyn. “But today I watched a semblance of justice. Ahmaud Arbery was killed, his life stolen, in a racist act of gun violence. That doesn’t change. But with some measure of accountability today, I pray for some measure of comfort for his family, and some measure of change for the country that saw him killed for the crime of being a Black man in America.” 

New York State Attorney General Letitia James. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Eric Garner Jr., a Brooklyn resident whose father was a well-known victim of police violence in Staten Island, said in a statement, “The family of Ahmaud Arbery has received justice. Today must symbolize the standard we all hold America to. The jury’s decision in this case sends a message to Americans everywhere who have lost hope in our justice system. This is proof that our system still works.”

The February 2020 slaying of Arbery drew limited attention at first. But when video of the shooting leaked online, his death quickly became another example in the nation’s reckoning of racial injustice in the way Black people are treated in their everyday lives.

Now the men all face a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The judge will decide whether their sentences are served with or without the possibility of parole.

As the first of 23 guilty verdicts were read, Arbery’s father had to leave the courtroom after leaping up and shouting. At the reading of the last criminal count, Arbery’s mother dropped her head and quietly pumped her fists.

“He didn’t do nothing but run and dream,” Marcus Arbery Sr. said of his son. Outside the courthouse, dozens of Black supporters hugged and cried.

Eric Adams. Photo: Eduardo Munoz/Pool via AP

The jury deliberated for about 10 hours before convicting Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan.

The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue the 25-year-old Arbery after seeing him running outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own pickup and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery.

The father and son told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar. But the prosecution argued that the men provoked the fatal confrontation and that there was no evidence Arbery committed any crimes in the neighborhood.

“We commend the courage and bravery of this jury to say that what happened on Feb. 23, 2020, to Ahmaud Arbery — the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Arbery — it was not only morally wrong but legally wrong, and we are thankful for that,” said Latonia Hines, Cobb County executive assistant district attorney.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski added: “The jury system works in this country. And when you present the truth to people and they see it, they will do the right thing.”

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